Farewell 2021

2021 has been a tough year; the world had aims of leaving the pandemic behind and returning to a more normal life, but sadly the pandemic is still with us, still raging in too many places. Vaccines have brought us hope though, and more freedom. I pray that less wealthy countries have access to them just as we have. I would specifically like to thanks the NHS health workers for the endless hardwork in vaccinating us and caring for those that are ill.

This year has been a quieter, more reflective one for me, I have taken time to look at the world around me and have tried to shape a path for myself that I hope will lead to fruition in the future. Below are some of my favourite photos of the year that we now leave.

I hope 2022 is a happier, healthier one for all of us, I pray that we can finally leave the pandemic behind us and have more gratitude for the freedom we have. I hope that 2022 is one that allows us to fulfil some of our ambitions and gives us drive to be better to ourselves and each other. Happy New Year.

Frieze Art 2021

I have visited the Frieze art festival for the last few years and after the absence of last year’s display, it was nice to see it back. The pieces are displayed in Regents park and is free to the public.

Here’s what we saw at this year’s festival. Some of the pieces were huge and others were quite playful. I like the huge colourful panels that you could walk through. The red shape in the trees was made up of recycled bottles which I thought was a timely piece.

I think my favourite art piece on display was the cloud with lightening strikes. I just love storms and lightening.

Other pieces had more poignant messages. The mass of tangles wire was wrought from the salvaged remains of the security fence raised around the U.S. Embassy in Oslo after 9/11. The stack of colourful spheres depicted motherhood and the female body. The red circular piece allowed you to sit on it and play, I had to ask some kids to get off for a moment so I could take a picture as they were clearly enjoying themselves.

I also liked the more odd pieces. The giant pineapple was fun and the meaning of it was amusing as it was meant to be wry commentary on the ‘prickly woman’. And the monster was strange, I wasn’t sure if I liked it or whether it made me uncomfortable.

Another fun piece I enjoyed was a huge semi circle made up of colourful panels. I enjoyed looking through the different colours at the landscape around me.

I thought there were some interesting art pieces at this year’s Frieze and I enjoyed having a look, and pondering about the meaning of some of them. I look forward to seeing what will be shown for next year.

Family day out to Southend

Summer in London has not been great this year weather wise. It’s been fairly cool and overcast most days, so when the sun came out bright and hot towards the end of summer we decided to make the most of it. The nearest coast to us is Southend on Sea so my family and I made decided to take a trip.

While we waited for others to arrive we wandered around the shops. I saw these mask shaped earrings that I thought were interesting.

When everyone had arrived we had a quick lunch and then made our way towards the pier, which is said to be the longest pleasure pier in the world at 1.33 miles long. The sky was bright and the sea was a beautiful blue and with a cool breeze we all set off.

At the end of the pier we all treated ourselves to ice creams and slushies, and taking in the beautiful blue sea, skies and sun.

After a rest, we sent my mum and the kids on the train back to shore and the rest of us walked. With the sun now low in the sky and the tide going out, the light cast some lovely silhouettes and shadows on the water.

We were pretty tired after that and after a quick visit to the gift shop we headed home for an even bigger family gathering and much needed dinner.

Whipsnade Zoo

I went to Whipsnade Zoo this summer with my sister and her family. It’s partnered with London Zoo I visited a few years ago. Whipsnade Zoo is huge so we started from one side and made our way round.

The animals are sectioned according to the continent they came from, so we started with Africa. The first animals we saw were chimpanzees. They were a bit far away but I liked that they had a lot of space to move around. We then moved onto the penguins which again I was pleased to see had a huge space and also a great view of the English landscape.

As we made our way along the path we suddenly spotted an animal that was outside like us! After a closer look we saw it was a wallaby hiding in the long grass. Did it escape?! Turns out no; there’s wallabies and Maras (like giant Guinea pigs) that are allowed to roams free. My 2 year old niece had fun chasing after the Maras, much to our amusement.

Getting over our surprise we next visited other animals typically found in Africa; rhinos, giraffes (my favourite), lions, ostriches, meerkats and zebras. Lions apparently sleep up to 20 hours a day so I didn’t hold much hope in seeing them running around. There was a cheetah too but they were hard to spot sleeping in the tall grass.

Walking along leaving the Africa section we turned a corner to see sudden bright pops of pink! Flamingoes!

Their pink feathers looked so lovely against the greeny water. There were flamingo chicks, their feathers stull grey, pelicans and herons all surrounding the same pond.

After stopping for lunch and a rest we made our way to the next section, the Asian continent. Here we saw elephants and tigers. The tigers were also pretty sleepy, making little movement. Nearby was an area dedicated to dinosaurs. There were various shaped and sizes, some growling and moving. My niece of 7 enjoyed making scared faces at them and digging for fossils.

Next we ventured into the aquarium and butterfly house. The kids enjoyed seeing the various fish and it was nice to go at a slower pace. By the time we reached the butterfly house my youngest niece was fast asleep and the older one didn’t like butterflies so didn’t stick around. I’m not fond of flying insects in closed spaces myself but I did manage to take some nice close up photos of some of the calmer butterflies.

Last stop was the farm, here they had a striking long haired Poitiven donkey, cows, ponies, alpacas, hens, rabbits and my little niece’s favourite baby goats! Feeling refreshed after her nap she spent her time petting, chasing after and hugging them.

I always feel conflicted when visiting zoos as I feel sad that animals are kept in smaller spaces than they would be in the wild. But the truth is that zoos can play an important part in conservation and survival of some animals. Seeing them in large, open spaces in nice and I’m glad that they seem to be well looked after at Whipsnade.

Thinking Spot

I’ve had a contemplative few weeks this summer and I’ve been wanting to find a quiet space and just think and de-stress. This spot I came across was perfect. With a stunning view and no one else around, it was just what I needed. I wasn’t able to stay for long but the view was a sight for sore eyes and the swift wind felt like it was sweeping away my frustrations as it rushed past me.

RHS Garden Hyde Hall

It was really hot and sunny in the UK recently so to make the most of it my family and I wanted a day out. The place we chose was RHS Garden Hyde Hall, which is an outdoor space with various types of gardens.

There were so many different types of plants and flowers, some I’d never seen before and most that I’d never be able to name. We started off looking at a little garden that had a variety of flowers, my favourites were the huge, eye catching, red poppies. I’ve never seen them that size before.

We then walked down to the fish pond that also had water lilies.

As it getting quite hot, we stopped for ice cream and a little rest. Nearby was a dry garden that overlooked the far reaching green hills below.

We walked on and saw beautiful flowers wherever we looked. It was amazing to see such a variety of flowers in every shape and colour you could imagine. Although I seem to be drawn to the purple ones the most.

I also spotted some light pink poppies, again I’d never seen this colour before and never in this size (they were about the size of a melon). Maybe there’s something in the water here.

We then took a path that led us to the Sky Meadow. Curious as to what this could be we came to a field full of wildflowers and a lovely calming view. I imagine the name comes from the fact that the sky meets the meadow and that’s all you see.

After resting for a while we made our way past a huge lake and a lovely green expanse which was lined neatly with tall trees and an interesting sycamore structure in the middle. The kids wanted to play so we headed in the direction of the play area that also had some fun animal structures .

The last part we saw was the Winter garden which consisted of foliage that would keep growing and survive the cold. There were some figures of leaves, showing stages of decay as you walked along, that I really liked. Nearby was also a pathway lined with hundreds of foxgloves.

We then made our way to the shop, where we picked up some lovely plants for my mum. My favourite being these Galaxy sky petunias that were quite striking.

The visit to RHS Garden Hyde Hall was a really nice one, there was so much to see and so many winding pathways that lead to unexpected spots. I felt a little rushed on this visit and the heat tired us out too, but I’d like to come back again in another season, see what else is growing and hopefully take it a little slower.

Colours of Spring

Spring is in full swing here in London so went to our local parks and into my garden to see what kinds of flowers I could spot.

The earliest flowers to be seen are the daffodils and croci. There were swathes of bright yellow daffodils in some parks that I visited, which was always pleasant to see. The flowers blooming early in my garden was a huge camellia tree with vibrant perfect looking pink flowers and magnolias. These magnolias were on a huge tree I spotted in someone’s front garden. It was quite a magnificent sight.

Later the flowers that opened up were varied and some I haven’t seen before like Blue Pasque flowers which I thought were quite fascinating. And as always a tree full of blossoms is a sure sign that Spring is here.

I’m lucky to have a few parks where I live and am able to go for long walks with lots of visual stimulus to enjoy. I always find myself stopping to tale a closer look at flowers I come across, each that brings it’s own beauty and joy.

Blue poppy

I haven’t taken any macro photos in a while, so when I bought my mum some flowers there were some lovely rich violet anemones also known as blue poppies that I thought were stunning and deserved a closer look.

I love the detail and texture of the petals and the indigo pollen that has fallen on to some of them. The small cluster of stamen in the centre create a balance against the smooth simple petals. And the yellow stigma is a nice contrast to the violet.

Even before fully open the petals seem to look like they are hiding a treasure in the centre.

These flowers are a real joy to look at and were a real pleasure to photograph. I hope to do take some more macro photos soon.

Pops of Colour

With the recent cold snap here in London it’s nice to see early signs of colourful life emerging. I love seeing pops of colour unexpectedly appearing, something that always brings a smile to my face. Here are some lovely flowers I came across not so long ago. I hope they cheer you up as much as they did when I spotted them.

A Dusting of Snow

We’ve had a dusting of snow here in London recently. The excitement of snow was a nice opportunity to take a few pictures but I didn’t venture too far.

These first couple of photos are from my garden when the snow had freshly fallen

A few days later I did venture to one of the local parks. The temperature was still so low the lake was still partially frozen. The smooth ice in the centre looked like a lake within a lake.

Where the lake ran off in smaller streams the water was still completely frozen over. The poor birds just walking on the ice looked odd. On my way back I did pass a scenic looking church, making me think of those classic Christmas cards.

I didn’t stay out too long as it was so cold. It took me the rest of the day to feel like I had warmed up again properly. The snow and ice were an interesting and quite beautiful addition to Winter but I’m glad they didn’t stay around for too long.